New York state regulations create inequality

Michaela Gawley , Opinions Editor

As students, we always hear people grumbling about the changes being made in education, but most of us do not really see how much of an effect they have on the student body.

When I first started my senior experience attending a beginner English class, I knew that I would learn a lot about the lives of students in ESL.  However, I did not realize that I would discover so many obstacles that the state has created for students learning English as a second language.

Students that come to this country as teenagers face an enormous amount of difficulty as they struggle to learn the basics of English while adapting to life in a new country, having often also left loved ones behind in their home countries.

Many of these students have large gaps in their education, as the education systems in their countries are often unregulated and inconsistent.

Imagine how difficult it would be to sit in a classroom and learn about the complexities of the circulatory system, when you can hardly read English on an elementary level.

On top of all of this pressure, New York State requires students to pass  five regents exams and accrue a total of twenty two credits to graduate.  This may seem like a simple task, but as the state has continued to change the Regents, they have become increasingly more difficult.

For students who are unable to pass the Regents, there is not an alternate route to graduation.

Although an IEP diploma is available to some students, the only students eligible for this are those who are only in special education classes.  So for both students with an IEP and in ESL, there is not an alternate route to graduation.

It is ridiculous that students learning English for the first time should be held to the same standards as those who have been speaking it their whole lives.

Schreiber is fortunate to have a stellar English as a Second Language Department that does its best to ensure that students are able to pass the Regents and graduate.

Due to their hard work and the hard work of their teachers, most ESL students pass the Regents, but with the implementations of the Common Core, both students in ESL and with IEPs are being left behind.

Why is the state making it more difficult for students who are already struggling?

It seems absurd to me that a society that claims to defend equality for all would take steps that make it impossible for students to receive a high school diploma, setting them up for a lifetime of inequity: like lower paying jobs, less opportunity for employment, and higher rates of incarceration.

“We have to advocate for these students and we do advocate for them because they do not have a voice.  Innovation comes from supporting those that need it.  Without school, and without a high school diploma there is no equity,” said ESL teacher Mr. John Davis.

History has demonstrated to us through the “separate but equal” Supreme Court ruling that claiming that something is equal for all does not mean that it truly is.

Holding students of all different levels to the same standards not only fails to provide an accurate portrayal of their strengths and weaknesses, but also adds to disparity within our society.